Shahzad hits century as Afghans level series with Ireland

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Mohammad Shahzad struck an 87-ball century as Afghanistan beat Ireland by 126 runs to draw their two-game ODI series in Belfast. Shahzad shared a 150-run second-wicket stand with Rahmat Shah (62) to help the visitors reach 305 in 50 overs.

The hosts never looked likely to threaten Afghanistan’s total, despite Paul Stirling’s 55-ball half century. Gulbadin Naib took six wickets as Afghanistan made short work of Ireland’s lower order. After defeats by West Indies and Bangladesh in the recent Tri-Nations, Ireland’s bowling attack led them to an impressive win in the opening ODI on Sunday.

Mark Adair made an early breakthrough on Tuesday when NoorAliZadran (5) picked out Boyd Rankin, bringing Shah to the crease. The second-wicket stand was eventually ended by Andy McBrine in the 31st over but by then considerable damage had been done to Ireland’s attack.

The bowlers were made to suffer further as Najibullah Zadran made the most of his side’s already healthy total to pile on an additional 60 runs from 33 balls to bring Afghanistan’s innings to an end. Naib, who was namedAfghanistan’s one-day captain last month, took the crucial wicket of Stirling two overs after he had Andrew Balbirnie caught behind.

Only Gary Wilson (32) was able to offer any resistance as Afghanistan strolled towards victory before he too fell to the bowling of Naib, finding Rashid Khan at midwicket. Ireland will now begin preparations for their three-match ODI series with Zimbabwe in July while Afghanistan gets their World Cup campaign underway against Australia on 1 June. (BBC Sport)

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